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problem with change management

What If The Problem With Change Management Isn’t That…

What if the founding premise behind Change Management that you’ve been using all this time is dead wrong? Change Management as a field of study has been around a long time, formalized since the 1960s, say, and there’s something shocking I’d like to have you come along with me to notice. Not one single big improvement has been made in Change Management during that whole period!

Can you imagine any other area of management science or other discipline in which the same is true? That would be baffling, wouldn’t it. Imagine the field of medicine stuck in the 60s. None of the new techniques in microscopic surgery for nerve restoration; nothing but a new range of colors for bandages. People would revolt! Yet today’s Change Management plods along, looking and behaving much the same as it did six decades ago. Figure out why people are resisting the change, the discipline of Change Management asks, and mitigate that resistance.

But Wait, Paul! shouts the reader. Don’t you agree that there is a lot of emphasis on the people side of Change rather than just the technical side these days? Isn’t that an advancement?

The issue here is that changing the focus merely addresses a symptom: and not very well, as it is well known that 70% or more of IT change management initiatives fail. No, Change Management has been letting us down for a very long time. And why is that? The answer is that no questioning of the main premise behind managing change has been done in the past sixty years.

I’d like you to ask that key question about Change Management’s core premise with me now: What if the problem with Change Management isn’t that people don’t want, or lack the ability, to change?

What if it’s something else?

Oh no, Paul, says the experienced reader. I’ve been leading Change projects for a long time. People really do resist change. It’s obvious.

Is it?

Or is what you’ve been seeing and experiencing symptoms of another root problem behind the scenes?

Change Management was created based on the premise that people don’t want to or cannot change. My contention is that this premise is wrong, and it has arrested the field of study for its entire existence.

What happens if we exchange that core premise for the opposite: that people welcome change, and can even be good at it?

Heresy! exclaims the reader.

That’s not very scientific as a response, I rejoin. How about we lower the walls for a moment and accept this thesis…because, frankly, it can’t do much worse than the one we’ve been blindly following all these years. You know, the one with an admitted 70% failure rate.

What happens when you approach managing change with the basic idea that people are able to change, want to make change happen, and are quite capable of executing change effectively?

What would that lead you to realize?

That something else must be getting in the way. Something else must be causing the symptoms of what we experts see as “resistance” to change. The delays. The complaining. The sabotage.

Something else must be responsible for those symptoms.

And if we can determine what that factor is, we could open up a transformation in the field of Change Management.

I’ve been operating from this new premise for many years now with multinational blue chip companies, across several industries, and have gotten results we should be talking about. Operating from this new premise was also the ignition for writing my first book.

In the coming days I’ll be posting more about my experience with managing change from this starting point. We’ll discover the real root cause of the painful symptoms we’ve been experiencing with Change Management so far. And you and I will see the results of this transformation in Change Management, the first in this discipline in all its time being practiced.

And you’ll be saying:

“Now That’s Improvement!”

Paul Brand,
Author, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business

PS. What has your experience been with Change Management? Does my alternate premise alarm you, or make sense? What questions do you have? Let’s get your feedback and have this very important conversation.

© Paul Brand